Paddle types for a specific purpose

Hi everyone!

Some of you may know me from previous posts - after several years of using a club boat, I have bought my first kayak. A beautiful (I think so anyway) NorthShore Calypso. An oldie, but a goodie!

Anyways, I am now looking for a new paddle and I have a further question. WHICH ONE!? Ok, a bit vague I know. My current paddle is an old Ainsworth - a nylon blade, low angle with an alloy single piece shaft. It’s a little on the heavy side and looking it’s age.

I use the paddle as an outrigger for support when I get in and out.

I have been looking at the Ainsworth range again (I like them) - Werner are nice, but too expensive at the moment.

So, to my question…

Bearing in mind how I use it, what would you all suggest as the blade and shaft material? I have also been thinking about an adjustable 2 piece design to tweak the feather, but I am worried that the joint might be a weak spot when I sit on it.

Polycarb blade with carbon shaft? Carbon blade with glass shaft? Wooden blade with concrete shaft!!! My head hurts.

The more I look the more confused I am getting!

I hope somebody, somewhere, can give me an answer (and some painkillers).


Budget number is?

Sorry I forgot that… £290 tops I think.

From your pricing it looks like you are in the UK. You might look to see and a vendor in the area has Celtic paddles from SKUK: Paddles – Sea Kayaking UK Outlet

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Hi Neil, Definitely get a two piece, they are so much easier to store and transport.

I personally use paddles with a fibreglass shaft and blade and am very happy with the weight. My budget doesn’t really stretch to carbon fibre either.

From Ainsworth website, they seem to have several nice paddles at or below £250. I like the blade shape of their low angle paddles.


I don’t understand sitting on the paddle. I’ve seen how people lean on the shaft when entering the boat.

I have a 4 piece Celtic I love it.

Yeah, I am currently in the UK. Finding paddle suppliers is not the problem though… finding the right paddle for my needs is my question.

I hope this shows what I mean when I sit on the shaft of the paddle.

I might have been a bit vague with my question…

As you can see in one of my replies above, the person in the video (not me) is using their paddle as a support, or ‘outrigger’. And to gain entry or exit from their boat they sit briefly on the shaft.

So what I want to know is what in your experiences is 1) a suitable shaft material for this - carbon, glass or alloy. And 2) what blade materials do you all prefer and finally 3) Irrelevant of material, is a 2 piece paddle not suitable for sitting on like this because the joint creates a weak spot?

It is not the number of pieces that is the problem - it is the weight they can hold, especially on the joints.

Hi Mark,
Have you ever needed to load weight on the paddle shafts or blades? What do you think the breaking strain could possibly be?

I can’t say that I’m a fan of that version of entering your kayak. Putting your weight centered between the supports gives about maximum load on the paddle. When I double check the video, he isn’t really sitting on the paddle. His weight is mostly on his hands. Going in it looks like his first sitting is on the edge of the kayak & going out maybe sliding a bit on the shaft but not really ‘sitting’. I also not that that technique is recommended when you have a rocky or steep shore. Otherwise with a keyhole or larger cockpit just plop your bottom in the seat pull your legs in & go. You might use the paddle for a quick brace if needed while pulling your legs in. Note that this is assuming that you don’t have health issues that add to the challenge of entering & exiting a kayak. If you do and do need to slide along the shaft then you may need to stick with a heavy & inexpensive paddle.

If you do have access to a quality paddling shop with staff who will listen and work with you rather than just trying to sell I’d recommend talking to them and showing them your concerns.

It appears you learned an undesirable method to get in and out. Suggest you try a different approach, like 1 leg in and squat and sit then get other leg in. Lots of ways, I would never sit on the rock supported paddle.

Use the paddle to paddle, and if you need support use a broomstick to sit on!

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You can’t sit on a shaft off to the side of the deck. Well at least one of mine. :joy:

You can use it to steady yourself and favor the paddle side a bit.

A little extreme but here is a look at a less hazardous to the paddle method. I’m getting into a Yost Sea Rider Skin-on-Frame kayak from a dock. The kayak is 19" max - 14" at the chine wide and has a near ocean cockpit. to get in I needed to sit on the back deck & work my legs in until my knees were past the masik. From there I could slide forward and get my but in and down. The paddle is supported by the water only and provides just enough support.

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I have a friend who inadvertently sat on his cf paddle. He was using it to brace, slipped and sat on the shaft and it broke.

For the way you are using the paddle…just stick with what you have. Save your money.

Only Paddles , like the one you have , will take this type of treatment.

To expound some… The Heavy …Heavy Aluminum shafted one piece Ainsworth was designed as a rental fleet paddle. One of it’s design parameters was not to break.

Other that similar rental fleet paddles, Few {or no} paddles have that as a major design parameter. The shafts using either fiberglass or carbon will only take this to some degree while the strands break some with each time until one day you place the paddle in the water to paddle and can’t believe that it broke…it took so little you say. So even if you think it is tough and taking it…it is being broken over time … a few strands at a time.

Stick with the Aluminum one piece until you decide to play fair with your paddle. The ferrule on a two piece paddle is also not designed to be treated this way.

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I’ve use my paddle shaft as an ‘outrigger’, for balance, when getting in or out of the kayak, holding one end of the paddle shaft to the rear edge of the cockpit and the other end of the paddle to the shore. All my 90+kg weight is not on the paddle, but I haven’t been concerned about the paddle failing.

That’s actually an interesting option… worth considering!